What have we really got here? Part 1
I've been thinking about this since the end of the game and so I'm going to say what I really think. The Texans are progressing very slowly by any way of measuring it.
We're in the latter half of year three and when we began we had nothing. We started with a clean slate and a whole bunch of needs. The coaches and front office has had an expansion draft, three regular drafts, and two free agent signing periods to put this team together. At this point what do we really have right now?
QB. David Carr, Tony Banks, Dave Ragone, BJ Symmons.
As a starter David Carr is still very much a question mark. His physical skills are without question but his growth is I think somewhat dissappointing. Carr spent his rookie year as a tackling dummy and still shows signs of the beating he took. He's got a disturbing tendancy to check down to his safety valve very quickly and a knack for calling an audible to a run at the worst possible time. His accuracy is no better than it was in his rookie year and if anything it seems to be dropping off as his third year concludes. At this point he still looks like he can't read an NFL defense to save his life. Banks is a typical NFL career backup type so no complaints there. Ragone is a giant question mark. A QB taken in the third round when the Texans needed help in a dozen different places. To date he's shown us nothing. Symmons is still up in the air but at least he didn't cost us a #3
Overall I'd say the Texans QB decisions have been at best average. Carr has not progressed enough and Ragone was flat out a waste of a pick when other needs were greater. Banks was an easy enough decision to make but every year you can sign a non-starting caliber vet to do that duty.
RB. Domanick Davis, Jonathan Wells, Tony Hollings.
Domanick Davis has skills. We've seen them and hope to see more of them but if anything he's a bonus, a fluke, and nothing more than blind stupid luck. The Texans drafted him in the fourth round to compete for the return job and be their 3rd down back. He's been more than they expected and thank god he has been. Tony Hollings, the second round project back has been next to useless thus far. He's a runningback with precious little experience playing runningback and he's not getting much of it at the rate he's going. To date he's lived on the inactive/injured list and the moment you get him near the field something on him breaks. We all knew Tony Hollings would take time to reach a point where we knew what we had but with his injury problems we're looking at 2013 before he gets on the field. Jonathan Wells was a 2002 4th that did what he could. He's not going to turn into another Clinton Portis but he's a capable backup who seems to be improving. If Davis had been what he was expected to be then Wells would be starting right now or we'd still have Stacy Mack. Think about that.
Overall I'd say the Texans RB decisions have been poor. If they hadn't gotten lucky with Davis there would be no running game to speak of. Wait a second, what am I saying? There's no running game to speak of as it is right now but that's more a line question than a Domanick Davis question I think.
WR, Andre Johnson, Jabar Gaffney, Corey Bradford, Derrick Armstrong
Andre Johnson has been everything he was advertised to be. No complaints here. He's easily been the best Texans player in their short history and he's just getting better. Gaffney has also done ok in my book. He had a slow start but he came into the league young. He's developing though which is more than you can say for many of the Texans players. Corey Bradford was signed before 2002 to be "the speed" which is a good thing because there's no way on earth he could have been "the hands". Derrick Armstrong is going to be sitting in Corey Bradfords spot next season since Corey's going to be cap casualty and Armstrong can catch. AJ has "the speed" covered so Bradford's time is done here.
Overall I'd say that WR is the one place where the Texans have made good decisions in general. AJ was a no-brainer though. I don't think even the Lions could have....oh wait never mind.
OL, Seth Wand, Chester Pitts, Steve McKinney, Zack Wiegert, Todd Wade
The offensive line has been a thing to pity in the first three years of this teams existence. They've not only played poorly, they've played poorly on a scale never before seen in the NFL. 76 sacks is unreal and they may very well have contributed to the non-development of a QB who may have missed a chance to become great as a result. Now granted this particular group had little to do with that but the Texans "brain trust" has truly botched the job of creating an offensive line that's effective. Starting with Boselli and Young they've consistently made poor decisions and are just now playing with a group that have any chance of being together for any length of time. Seth Wand is a first year starter and second year player who's done ok and Chester Pitts is in my mind the best lineman we have. Pity he couldn't be in his third season at LG because he'd be a lot further along. Steve McKinney is nothing special and a liability much of the time. Whatever motivated the Texans when they decided to sign this guy and turn him into a center I'll never know. He gets dominated on a regular basis (still!) and Carr getting pressure up the middle is something Carr has just had to learn to live with. Zach Weigert came in last season and turned in a great performance in the line finally getting it's collective act together. So what do the Texans do? They give him a new guy to play RT next to him and alter their scheme. This season he's been like the rest of them and looked like a player trying to learn something new on the job. Todd Wade is a new addition who we really don't know much about yet. He hasn't been exactly a pillar on the right side but then again he's in a new scheme too.
Overall I think the Texans offensive line woes have been a capital offense. This has much more to do with their previous years than this year but the line in 2004 has to contend with the results. Second system in three years and a revolving door of players has us incapable of run blocking or pass protecting. I don't think I've ever seen a team make more bad decisions trying to put an offensive line together than this. Maybe, just maybe they'll be ok in 2005 but I wouldn't put any money on it. When it comes to depth the Texans seem no better off than they were in 2002. Fred Weary is no closer to being useful now than he was then. Marcus Spears is an instant liability when he comes in for Wade.
TE, Billy Miller, Mark Bruener, Matt Murphy, Bennie Joppru
Billy Miller was an inspired decision (one of the few this team has made) and he's paid off in spades but he's not the TE this team needs. He's an oversized WR who can't block and I'm sure he's got a place on this team but it's not as a starter. His conversion to TE has been iffy at best. Mark Bruener was a move the Texans made that I thought would pay off bigtime but he's been pretty darned ordinary and I think we all know now why the Steelers didn't throw to him too often. Murphy I confess to knowing nothing about but at this point the focus has to be on Joppru who we've never seen in a Texans game. Through no fault of his own he's been healing for going on two years. Does anyone feel really good about what he's going to do in his third?
Overall I'd say the Texans have been the victims of some bad luck when it comes to Joppru and that they've made do with what they had. The end result though is not good. Around the league the TE position has become a huge threat and guess what? We don't have one that strikes fear in anyone. At best we can put in a "We're going to throw" or "We're about to run" package. There's not a complete TE on the roster right now and if Joppru misses another year the Texans need to address this.
DL, Robaire Smith, Seth Payne, Gary Walker
The names look really good on paper. Smith is young, new, and going to be around for a while I think. He's new to the 3-4 and this is his first season so I expect him to improve this year. Payne is coming off his injury from last season and seems to be getting back to his old self at times. At others he's less of a force than he once was. The one thing I can say for Walker is that when he goes out and gets replaced by one of our "depth" the defense doesn't seem to lose anything. The simple fact is that our defensive line isn't getting to anyone. I've not seen one opposing QB this season pressured consistently. We're getting picked apart and run over regularly. We're missing something here. Maybe it's speed and maybe it's just a case of Payne needing more time to get back to where he was but this group doesn't look like the 2002 version with Walker, Payne, and DeLoach. That group stopped up holes and created pressure on their own. That group had Jeff Posey sacking the QB on a regular basis. This group isn't getting it done.
Overall I'd say the Texans need another lineman who can occupy two guys. Payne used to be that guy and maybe he will be again. Walker also used to be that guy and between them they gave the 2002 linebackers opportunities. This year they aren't pulling their weight.
LB, Kailee Wong, Jay Foreman (up until today), Jamie Sharper, Jason Babin
Before I go into this I have to say that I'm a Foreman hater. I can't talk about Foreman objectively because I've been steadily hating on this guy since his bonehead play cost us a game against his former team in 2002. I find it amazing that this guy is still starting for us. Having said that I'm not too terribly unhappy with the linebackers since the team came into the league. Sharper has been better in the past but he's still about as good as we get back there. Today's game against the Jets wasn't his finest but how many Texans can say it was. I think Wong was a good pickup but he belongs in the middle. He's done good things on the outside from time to time but he's a middle linebacker and nothing's going to change that. Foreman is a liability and that's all I'm going to say. Babin I've been pleased with thus far and being a rookie he's going to need some time to make the transition.
In the 3-4 the linebackers and defensive line are so interdependent where the pass rush is concerned that it's impossible to talk about the job one is doing without mentioning the other. Taking that into account I'm a believer that the Texans should have started Wong in the middle from the start of the season, brought Peek in to play where Wong was and sat Foreman. I keep reading about how Peek can't play the run and how Peek is going to be a liability against the run. Well, do the Texans stop the run with Foreman in there and Wong on the outside? How much worse can it get when every week someone is running all over you? Teams are killing us with the run AND killing us with the pass so why not at least try and stop one of the two? How much worse can the run defense be with Peek in there?
Secondary, Aaron Glenn, Marcus Coleman, Glen Earl, Dunta Robinson.
I think this unit takes more abuse than it should and I like the secondary that the Texans have put together. The lack of any pressure on the QB has put these guys in bad spots all year long and it will continue to happen until they get someone on the QB's tail regularly. Glenn was a brilliant pickup as was Coleman in the expansion draft. Robinson, like AJ is everything he was advertised and Earl I suspect might be the steal if this past draft. They're going to continue getting burned until we can rush the passer but they're for real.
so what do we have here in the 2004 Houston Texans? What have the Texans built up till now? Well, in a few places things look pretty good but overall I don't think we've got the future contender we thought we had. Specifically they've made a complete mess of the offensive line since day one and that unit is far behind the teams overall growth. It's affected every aspect of the team by being unable to protect Carr or block for first James Allen, then Jonathan Wells. When it finally reached a point where it began to look effective the Texans decided to rebuild it and teach it a new way of doing things and effectively negated a large part of the progress that had been made. On the defensive side of the ball the Texans have serious problems getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and give up the run like they think it's a good thing. this season is the worst I've seen the defense look so far. A defense made up of street free agents on the line looked more effective at the end of last year against the Colts and Titans than these guys have in weeks. I'm just about ready to start lobbying for Ioane, Sears, and DeLoach. At least those guys played their tails off.
In addition I want to know where the depth is that the Texans have been so busy getting over the last couple of years. From my perspective on offense we're two QB's deep (Carr and Banks), Two RB's deep (Davis and Wells), Four WR's deep (Johnson, Gaffney, Armstrong, and Bradford), completely lacking a "complete" TE just like we've been since day one, and completely screwed if a reserve offensive lineman has to come in. Defense is better but then other than in the secondary we're playing so poorly that it would be hard for a backup to do anything bad enough to stand out. Peek I think would be an upgrade but aside from that the starters have played a mediocre season. They don't look as good as the reserves who stepped in for them a year ago.
Call this a long rant if you wish but I look at what the Texans have built in the last three years and I can't help but be underwhelmed.
I think at this time.. that is a fair report. Herv. I am not mad at the losses but the WAY we are losing. Seemed like we did more with less in the 1st 2 years. Maybe it is that teams are taking us more seriously than before esp when "playoffs" was mentioned by the media and we have flopped. I haven't an answer.
I personally hate the fact that we are so nonchallant (sp?) about everything Offensively and defensively. Seems to me ,when things go wrong, we have a team that loses focus.. We start dropping balls and making mental mistakes..Kinda like we expect to lose. I don't see a swagger in this team.
for a "fan" you sure do have a lot of negativity towards the team.. lots of bad mouthing. I admit I didnt read everything you said.. I became disinterested when you said Carr was a big question mark.
Now.. he has definatly struggled at points this year.. but a 3rd year QB aint a veteran. Somehow I doubt you would have been saying he was a question mark when he was ranked in the top 5 earlier this year.
He has progressed fine.. give him a running game and he will do even better.
Davis aint a bust yet, he looked good against the jets today. Our RB decisions havent been questionable.. though obviously we have not come out on top. We made good decisions, they just didnt pan out. Hollings has been a disappointment with his injuries.
We are the kings of WR drafting.
Through drafting we have picked up 1 very good Olineman in Pitts.. and one still questionable but looking really good olineman in Wand. We have signed Wade and Wiegert.. both of which are quality lineman and seem to do their job well. McKinney may indeed be our weakest link, but it is also a very important position and one that requires a player that meshes well with the QB, which McKinney does. As long as he isnt a revolving door, he will be our center. They are also learning a new system, on top of having no experience together. Give them time.
I agree with your assessment of TEs
We DO need help on the line. They arent getting pressure and they arent stopping the run. If anything id say it has been one of the biggest disappointments this year... on par with our Oline last year.
Our LBs are looking alright but need help. Foreman is good but isnt a starter, he would be a quality backup though. Sharper and Babin are starters and deserve their positions. I cant wait to see Babin next season. The other side of the field though, is a quandry. Move Wong to inside? when he has been lined up inside before I havent been impressed.. or at least I havent noticed him at all. Peek on the outside? hes a great passrusher.. but can he be the total package? if he doesnt learn to cover and stop the run over the offseason, he will continue to be a pass rush specialist and nothing more. A think an ILB in one of the first 3 rounds is a good idea. (DERICK JOHNSON!!!!!!!!!)
I agree with what you say about the secondary. Robinson is the man. he is a stud, no doubt.
All in all I am happy with our progress. I think we made the right decision going to the zone blocking scheme and the last two weeks have shown that, when it starts to work even halfway correctly, Davis can capitalize on it. Our pass protection is infinitly better than it has ever been. Going to zone blocking now means that, when we are really a complete team, the Oline will have a season or two of the zone blocking scheme under their belt and will be alot more effective than if we had continued on our previous path.
Carr is our QB of the future.. he is progressing just fine and continues to get better every year. If stops improving and makes these mistakes, THEN I will consider the possibility that he isnt our guy.. but he hasnt given me any reason to think that so far. Give us a running game and our offense will look ALOT better. A WHOLE LOT.
Defensively we are building.. just like we were building offensively the last two seasons. I dont know WHY our Dline shut down but we need young talent there anyway so I guess it doesnt really matter. I look forward to a couple of Dline picks on the first day.. and/or possibly a FA pickup. Earl, and Robinson could very well become the cornerstones of our new secondary. Mcree, I think, can be our FS of the future.. we will eventually need another CB to replace Glenn, but that can wait another season I think. We still need a pass rusher.. and that could come from Peek and Babin if peek learns to play his position.. if not.. maybe Derrick Johnson :).
SO.. you say you are underwhelmed.. well i wouldnt say im overwhelmed with our progress but im definatly not disappointed. If anything.. im most surprised at our lack of character this year. The last two seasons ive taken pride in the fact that we dont give up. Now it seems that.. since we are SUPPOSED to be winning.. when we ARENT winning the team seems to start beating itself up and not playing at 100%... that aint good. We need leaders on this team.. Maybe Robinson and Carr will fill those roles in the coming seasons.
Buck up folks.. just cause we fell apart on a few games this season, doesnt mean we suck and need to start over. Its just growing pains... as talented as we are we are still young.. we still dont have an identity of our own. Give it another season or two and if we still have these problems, THEN it is time to look at shaking things up a bit.
Well, it's not about negativity Grid. It's about what I'm seeing this season. It's not about this game in particular either. It's about an entire series of games beginning really in Detroit and ending today. Right now we're sitting at 5-7 and two of those wins came against Tennessee. Now where would we be at if Tennessee hadn't picked this season to implode? Would we have split with them? Would we have been swept again by them? Without those two wins we'd be sitting at 3-9 right now or if we just had one of those wins then it'd be 4-8. Either way we've beaten one very bad team twice this year (which is a good thing, nobody wants to lose to a bad team) but I can't place a lot of faith in the progress we've made in two wins against Tennessee this season. Our other wins came against a struggling Chiefs team, a struggling Raiders team with Kerry Collins getting his first start with them, and the Jaguars which was IMO the only win we have this year that we can really crow about.
Have we beaten, or even been really competitive against a single truly good team? San Diego was a good team and we maybe could have beaten them but we imploded and they weren't a "good team" at the time. They were supposed to be the worst team in football as I recall. Detroit thumped us good and hard and then we slipped one by on the Chiefs which was good. Then came the Raider game followed by a thumping at the hands of the Vikings before we came back. We lost it but we came back to force overtime. Ask yourself if this team comes back if this game isn't at Reliant Stadium. I know the answer to that and it's "Of course not". If this had been in Minnesota we'd have just been beat down and that would have been that.
A win over the lousy Titans and than another one over the pretty good Jags followed and from that point forward it's been stark raving reality. The Broncos killed us, The Colts killed us, The Packers got by us when our offense failed to do anything but drink Gatorade in the second half. Then we got the Titans again and they were up on us 21-3 before we came back on them but remember, they're a bad (and injured) team and it was at home. Now we go to New York and another good team delivers a thumping to us on the road.
The Texans played harder against the better opponents on our schedule last year than they have this year. That's just a plain reality and I've started wondering how much of a homer I've become and why I kept thinking for all these weeks that the Texans were about to turn some kind of corner when in reality they're less competitive this year than they were in 2003.
I'm a "fan" but that doesn't mean I have to set my brain aside while being one. I have for the majority of this season but it's time to start applying those reasoning skills and trying to figure out what exactly I'm looking at and it's not good. I'm starting to wonder how much the poor line play has effected the development of David Carr and I'm starting to wonder how long it will really be before the Texans are ready to play with the good teams in this league.
Those teams are hanging 40 and 50 points on the also-rans and the Texans have broken 30 points exactly once in three years. They're having a good day when they score over 20 and often that comes from a defensive score. Our offensive line is not doing a good job of protecting Carr. The sacks may be down but the pressure is there. When Carr was ranked in the top 5 I was happy about it of course. We all were and I want to see him back up there. I'm not going to ignore the fact though that his play has dropped off considerably since then. I would think that would be a cause for concern with any "fan".
...'another season or two' seems to be the Texans motto--what many of
you forget is that we will always be 'tinkering' with some part of the team,
so it's not like we are going to reach a stopping place where everything
magically fits into place...This team needs two things NOW, not next year
or the year after or the year after-- (1) team needs to play to win and
(2) team needs to be consistent (in a positive way)...
on the Bright side.. We took a thumping and this is the 1st time this board isn't lit up with "fire Palmer" threads...
Very true. I wonder if a lot of people are kind of stunned. I honestly felt like if the Texans were actually an "improved" team then we would see something out of them today. Yes, I know playing on the road is hard and the Jets weren't pushovers. I also was pretty sure they weren't in the same league with the Patriots or Colts (And I was right, they only nailed us for 29 points and not 40 something).
This was without a doubt the "No really, wait till next year" game.
Remember what Ditka said about the Texans always trying to fix a problem on ESPN at the begining of the season, a lot of you are starting to sound like you agree with him. When at the time he said it, it was the dumbest thing any of us have heard about the Texans. While Hervoyel's comments were fair for the most part, please don't forget we are a THIRD YEAR TEAM.
Honestly, do we have that much to whine about... give it atleast 2 more seasons until we seriously start complaining about major holes in the roster. Trust me, every team but the Patriots, Steelers and Eagles are problaly taking about filling holes in their roster and all but one of those teams have been around for over a decade. For the next 2 season we just need to win with what we got and hope for the best and things will fall into place.
I pretty much agree with Hervoyel.
I really am scratching my head as to why we switched to a zone blocking scheme to start our 3rd year. Why take a group of lineman, swap a couple of them around, and then change the run blocking scheme after they showed improvement in their 2nd year. That put us right back at square one instead of building on the previous 2 years. Why couldn't we have left Pitts at lt and made wand learn to play lg? This zone blocking scheme may payoff down the road but we will never know how good we could have been had we remained on course without changing the scheme.
I don't have a good read on Carr. At times he looks great. I'm worried about his reading of defenses and his accuracy. I still think he will come around and be the franchise qb we drafted him to be.
DL is a sore spot. Walker is disappointing at best.
Herv you have in a different way said what I have been saying, but nobody looks at the coaching staff. Carr reminds me of a guy who has been through a friendly fire incident in the military. He has taken a lot of lumps. I know its a broken record, but the coaches give Carr the plays, including the alternates, he's going to run. I think the biggest offensive problem is the O-line, but I do not believe its their fault. I've said before that Capers bought hook, line and sinker into the concept of the zone blocking, because he wanted a power run game. He doesn't have the personnel for that game. I've said that Carr and AJ were a waste for this team to pick, because we really do not want to maximize the use of their abilities. Casserly has to have a real delima on his hands. He picks players based on the best player available at the time, but he has a coach who doesn't adapt to his players and their skills. Its a mind boggling disaster. I wished more of you could see what's truely going on.
I think that the original post is correct in a lot of ways, even if some comments could be considered as harsh or overreacting by some "true" fans. It's just a very objective and unemotional view.
1) Each part, offense or defense, starts and falls with the Lines. Give Carr more time, and you get better production. Give Davis or whoever some lanes ... The possiblities of Carr and Davis and AJ with all that other Receiver you've got are amazing. It's just that the word possiblities has still to be used. The play calling looks conserative sometimes, BTW.
2) ImHO the defense still lacks a true leader/playmaker. One guy, who is leading by action as vocal as well. Like a DT or LB (in the 3-4 system) who can make HIS Defense better and raise the level of play forcing an off coordinator to account for him. It's a lack of personnel that some expansion teams already have had, cause that players are hard to get.
"The offensive line has been a thing to pity in the first three years of this teams existence. They've not only played poorly, they've played poorly on a scale never before seen in the NFL. Seth Wand is a first year starter and second year player who's done ok and Chester Pitts is in my mind the best lineman we have. Pity he couldn't be in his third season at LG because he'd be a lot further along. Steve McKinney is nothing special and a liability much of the time. Whatever motivated the Texans when they decided to sign this guy and turn him into a center I'll never know. He gets dominated on a regular basis (still!) and Carr getting pressure up the middle is something Carr has just had to learn to live with. Zach Weigert came in last season and turned in a great performance in the line finally getting it's collective act together. So what do the Texans do? They give him a new guy to play RT next to him and alter their scheme. This season he's been like the rest of them and looked like a player trying to learn something new on the job. Todd Wade is a new addition who we really don't know much about yet. He hasn't been exactly a pillar on the right side but then again he's in a new scheme too."
At first you blast the OL in general(as if they are all total losers), but when you discuss individual players:
McKinney is the only one who is a real mistake, the other 4 are atleast ok, show promise, and/or still adjusting to the new blocking scheme.
So then what's your conclusion on the OL - are we just one player away coupled with successfully adjusting to the new blocking scheme, or are we multiple players/light years away from having a descent OL ?
On defense his reputation was a schmer who could take advantage of the skills of his personanel. i saw some that in 2003 when he was playing guys name Schelta(sp) in the DL. Now that he has more of the guys he seems to want to line-up and beat other team based on skill.
hervoyel names some interesting points in the inital post, but i don't have the time break all of that down.
It is a cause of concern.. but im not ready to start passing judgement or claim that the sky is falling. It is true that we have played with less heart this year.. at least in road games. but really isnt that almost a staple of young teams? playing alot better at home than they do on the road. I think as the young guys have come into their own, they have stopped looking up to the veterans and started considering themselves NFL players. Unfortunatly, that means the only people they have to depend on to motivate themselves, is themselves. What im trying to get at is, we do not have a history of winning games.. we do not know how to win yet. That is having a negative impact on our "heart".. especially in away games when they dont have the home crowd to get them pumped up. Give it another season or two(hehe) and maybe we will see some of these guys learning how to win and becoming self motivated.
I think our performance during home games is alot better judge of our team than the away games. We just need to get that attitude that we can beat anyone anywhere and we are going to do it. Then maybe we can go on the road and come back from a deficit in a tough environment.
BTW.. I completely support our moves with the Oline. We are a young team still in the building stages.. no matter what anyone says. Changing to zone blocking NOW.. will give us a superior blocking scheme in the future when we are truely competing for the championship. OLinemen are intelligent.. you do not need a "specific" kind of olineman to use zone blocking.. all you need is time, practice, and no injuries.
Ya know.. this is kind of off topic. but since we obviously have a very deep receiving corp.. and do not necessarily NEED TEs that can catch. maybe we should sign a couple of TE Free Agents. Specifically.. maybe we should get a couple of one dimensional blocking TEs. Or, at least one more outside of bruenor. If we arent going to use them for receiving.. maybe we should just get the best run blocking TEs we can find. Then when Joppru comes back maybe we will have the total package.. if not.. in a couple seasons we can try drafting one again.
I want to see a TE that can catch and block, not just one or the other. We have a TE that can block and we have a big receiver at TE. Neither one is working. Frankly, I think Miller has worked out better so far, but I'm really not sure. I don't notice Miller when he's apparently stinking up the running game. At least I know that everyone says he can't block.
Don't go crazy on me, but how many good O-lineman (or D-linemen) could we get for a star like Andre Johnson? Is it even worth asking? No! No! Stop throwing things at me!
You are football savy and cute, nice combo. Too bad you are a Cowboy's fan.
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